Legislation proposed in NYS to hold utilities accountable for natural disasters

2020-10-29 22:35:08 GMT2020-10-30 06:35:08(Beijing Time) Xinhua English

NEW YORK, Oct. 29 (Xinhua) -- New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo on Thursday proposed new legislation to strengthen the state's enforcement tools to hold utilities accountable in response to widespread failures resulting from more frequent and extreme weather events.

"God did not give the utility company the franchise -- the people of the state gave the utility company the right to operate. If the people of this state allow the utility company to operate, the people of the state can revoke their right to operate," the governor was quoted as saying in an official release.

If passed by the state's legislature, the new law would dramatically increase penalties to shareholders for failing to adhere to emergency response plans and other violations of the Public Service Law, regulations or orders of the Public Service Commission (PSC).

The new law would also expedite and clarify the process of utility franchise revocation for recurring failures. In addition, it requires the PSC to cap the amount of money ratepayers contribute to utility executive salaries.

"New Yorkers will no longer be bullied by utility companies who have long believed they are too big to fail. The abuse of public trust by utility companies will not be tolerated in New York State," said Cuomo.

"The penalty should be commensurate with the damage caused by the utility companies. By removing the caps on penalties and easing the path to franchise revocation, utility companies will be held accountable," added the governor.

The legislation was proposed on the 8th anniversary of Superstorm Sandy, officially referred as Hurricane Sandy. In the United States, Sandy affected 24 states, including the entire eastern seaboard from Florida to Maine and west across the Appalachian Mountains to Michigan and Wisconsin, with particularly severe damage in New Jersey and New York.

The hurricane's storm surge hit New York City on Oct. 29, 2012, flooding streets, tunnels and subway lines and cutting power in and around the city. Damage in the United States amounted to 65 billion U.S. dollars.

"We know that extreme weather is our new normal. Yet utilities repeatedly fail to respond to storms. I proposed a bill to hold them accountable," Cuomo tweeted on Thursday. Enditem